Peroration





The close of a lecture is called the peroration--the word oration

prefixed by the Latin preposition "per." "Per" has several meanings, one

of them being "to the utmost extent" as in peroxide--a substance

oxidized to the utmost degree.



This is probably the sense in which it is used in peroration, for the

close of a lecture should be oratory at its utmost.



The speaker who has failed to observe the previous rules about

"beginning easy," and "speaking deliberately" will pay the penalty here.

If he has spoken rapidly, he will be unable to increase the pace--at

least, sufficiently to get the best results.



If he has spoken too loudly and kept nothing in reserve, his voice will

refuse to "rise to the occasion."



The manner of the peroration has two essentials, an increase of speed,

and a raising of the voice. These two things go naturally together; as

the words come more quickly the voice tends to rise apparently

automatically, and this is as it should be.



The peroration has the nature of a triumph. The question has been fought

out in the main body of the lecture, the opposing positions have been

overthrown, and now the main conclusion is victoriously proclaimed and

driven home.



Even if an element of pathos enters into the peroration, it is a mistake

to allow the voice to weaken. If it takes a lower note, it must make up

in strength and intensity what it loses in height. Anything else is sure

to prove an anticlimax.



The matter of the peroration should consist of the main conclusion of

the lecture, and should begin by gathering together the principal

threads of the discourse which should lead to that conclusion.



The necessity for a peroration, or strong finish, is recognized in

music, the drama, and everything presented before an audience. Most band

selections end in a crash, the majority of instruments working at full

capacity. Every musical comedy concludes with its full cast on the stage

singing the most effective air. Every vaudeville performer strives to

reach a climax and, where talent breaks down, refuge is sought in some

such miserable subterfuge as waving the flag or presenting a picture of

the bulldog countenance of Theodore Roosevelt.



The entertainer, however, appeals to prevailing opinions and prejudices;

he gives the audience what they want. The lecturer should be an

instructor and his theme may be a new and, as yet, unpopular truth, and

it is his duty to give the audience what they should have.



Therefore the peroration should be full of that persuasive eloquence

which will lead the audience to a favorable consideration of the

positions which have been carefully and judiciously presented in the

body of the lecture.





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